Steampunk Movie Top Ten – No.8 & No.7

Recently I polled active members of the Pandora Society’s Facebook group to nominate and vote upon their favorite “Steampunk” movie. Many films were nominated, but this week we shall present those that were voted into the top ten by looking at two films per day as we count down to the Pandora Society’s favorite “Steampunk” film ever!

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No. 8 – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty PosterA story brought to you from the minds that created James Bond and Willy Wonka! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the story of “A hapless inventor finally finds success with a flying car, which a dictator from a foreign government sets out to take for himself,” (imdv.com) flew onto the big screen in 1968 in a screenplay written by Roald Dahl based on the novel by Ian Fleming.

Dick Van Dyke plays Caractacus Potts, the archetypical eccentric inventor searching for new means of flight, but even more eccentric is his explorer father Grandpa Potts, played bLionel Jeffries (who is actually six months younger than Van Dyke). The star of the movie, however, is the car itself which lends the film its title. The car allows the opportunity for our protagonists to find adventure and discover the imperialistic tyranny of Baron Bomburst, played by German actor Gert Fröbe who also portrayed the title villain in the Bond movie Goldfinger four years prior to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The movie has the whimsy of Roald Dahl, but having been produced by Albert R. Broccoli, producer of the James Bond franchise from 1962 to 1995, and originally penned by Bond creator Fleming, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is woven together by the elements that make a good Bond thriller. One needs only think of how many things James Bond’s cars have been able to do in the various movies, such as turn into a submarine, fire missiles, turn invisible, etc., to make the connection.

Thematically Chitty Chitty Bang Bang follows a path common to many “Steampunk” stories, that of technology meant for the betterment of humankind being perverted by tyrants seeking power, and how the rebellious spirit of the free-thinker can defeat imperialism . . . is it a coincidence that the purple, green, and white of the floating Chitty are the colors of the women’s suffrage movement of that era?

 

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No. 7 – Hugo

Hugo PosterA film in which one of the main supporting characters is none other than Georges Méliès, played by Ben Kingsley, the inventor of science fiction movies! Already we’re off to a good start, but the adventure follows Hugo Cabret, played by Asa Butterfield, “an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.” (imdb.com).

Despite being set in the 1930’s, Hugo romanticizes past technology in the form the clockwork automaton and the films and imagination of Méliès. Hugo needs to revive the automaton from the past to unlock a secret that will lead him to his future, and Méliès needs to come to terms with his lost glorious past to release him from his sense of current failure; both quests are interlinked as the mystery unfolds.

 

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Next up, movies six and five in our top ten countdown, but previously ten and nine 🙂

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